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BIG DEER OR MATURE DEER - What makes a deer achieve "Shooter Status" for us at MDLO?

Here is a table that I built that easily shows my thought process on deciding if a deer is worthy of being harvested by a client... based off age and/or score. I had to put some "maybe's" in there because, well, you never know. Take a peak at it below...



There are a lot of factors in this beyond age and score. Sometimes, it comes down to the quality of the farm and MDLO's expected time on the farm as for years leasing in the future. Sometimes, it comes down to the nature of the rack and frame. We killed a "booner-framed" 8pt that taped 130" but that deer should be shot every time. We have killed some tight-racked bucks with height that taped at and over 150" even though he wasn't to the ears. It just depends on the deer and each deer is different. Being well-versed in scoring is a huge upside to judging deer on the hoof. Yet, then there is age to consider.


The likely-mature (4-1/2 or 5-1/2?) 128" 8pt (5x3) referenced above.

Look at that palmation! His frame is wide with great length. I'd shoot this deer 8 days out the week.


Regardless of age, I can't tell a hunter to not shoot a 160" deer, but I reserve the right to do so if I want him to have another year for us to maybe get a crack at him the following season. Odds are though that I won't. A 160" deer is a different level of trophy, and when on a time crunch, I don't want to be the party pooper. Yet, as the chart shows, with age (maturity) comes leniency on score. To me, 5-1/2 or older is a mature deer to me. 4-1/2 and younger is immature to me, but it's on the fence a bit. As you can see, we want basically no 3-1/2 year olds harvested unless they are 160-170+. We did kill a debatable 3-1/2 year old 168" in 2016, and I was broken-hearted over it. Yet, that a stud. He could have been the next 200" deer we killed, but he could have died from EHD, got shot on the neighbors, or hit by a truck. One in the hand versus two in the bush.


The debatable 3-1/2 (maybe 4-1/2?) year old 168" stud reference above.

Trail camera photos showed this deer's body, and it was very much looking like a 3-1/2 year old despite being rutted up. So, he could very well have been 4-1/2. What a beautiful deer though!